A Proactive God
24th Sunday in ordinary Time (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There is a difference between being reactive and being proactive. To be reactive is to be oriented towards the past. If A happens then B usually follows. To be proactive is to be oriented towards the future.. If a happens then B or C or D may follow. To be reactive does not take much deliberation. Stimulus is followed by response. To be proactive is to consider different alternatives of action.

Action starter: Do not give up on anyone.

I saw this difference in two homes I visited. In one house a four-year old girl dropped her glass from the table and broke it. Immediately, the mother yelled at her for being so careless. In another house after the same thing happened, there was a brief silence and then the mother told the little girl to get the broom so they could sweep the broken glass and gently reminded her daughter to be more careful at the table. In the first case the mother gave vent to her anger while in the second case the mother was more careful with what comes out of her month. Otherwise, it is not just the glass that gets broken. The girl too.

The Gospel this Sunday describes to us a proactive God. He is a God who seeks out the sinner as told in the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (Lk. 15:1-32). The shepherd looked for the lost sheep, the woman looked for the lost coin, and the father rushed out to meet his son. In all instances there is joy because one who is lost is finally found. St. Paul in the second reading refers to himself as the forgiven sinner and one who is lost but found, “I am the worst of them, but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life “ (1 Tim.1:15-16).

This is the Good News. God desires me. God seeks me. God wants me. I am very important to God. A common feeling that prevails among those who in some way or other have not lived up to the best in themselves is that of self-pity or lack of self-worth. I am no good. I have failed my parents and family. I have failed myself. I have failed God. Instead of seeking help we go away. We do not want to be a burden to anybody. We are not worth anybody’s attention. This happens to drug addicts, alcoholics, runaways, and others who have failed, “I am no longer fit to be your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.”

God has another way of seeing things. He restores our dignity to us, “Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet.” Instead of reacting to our shameful past, God sees the best in us.

If this is the God we worship, shouldn’t we also see things from His perspective. Every person is worth saving, even the failures and those considered derelicts of society. God seeks us out and like the father in the parable He runs to meet us. Let us not hesitate to receive God’s forgiveness. Let us run to meet him.

Do you remember Peter the apostle? When he learned from the women that Jesus was alive and the tomb was empty, he “got up and ran to the tomb” (Lk. 24:12). He did not hesitate. He was not thinking of his denial of Jesus. All he cared about was to meet the Lord.